A Crucial Step in Storm Preparedness
While we may spend time boarding up windows and filling sandbags, many homeowners forget to take steps to protect their trees. A well-prepared tree can survive a storm and minimize damage to homes and landscaping. Untrained individuals may urge you to cut back your damaged trees, but professional arborists believe that “topping,” cutting main branches down to stubs, is one of the worst things you can do for a tree.
Survey Your Trees
Storm-proofing trees requires a bit of time and effort. But it’s better to invest in preventative maintenance than wait until the damage has already been done. Much of the work can be done by a homeowner, but when it comes to pruning thick canopies or correcting leaning trees, a professional should be called in.
Start by walking around your yard and taking note of the condition of your trees. Look at the bark, trunks, roots, and canopies. If you see any signs of damage, such as root rot, bare foliage, insecure branches, or leaning trunks, it’s a good idea to have a certified arborist come and inspect them.
Proper planting and regular trimming help trees stay healthy, withstand stress from strong winds and recover from minor damage that can occur in high winds. It is also important to mulch young trees to retain moisture, which is essential for their growth. And be sure to stay away from power lines and other utility poles, as contact can lead to dangerous situations.
Many trees that are damaged by severe windstorms can be salvaged if the right measures are taken. Some of the most common repairs include removing jagged breaks and minimizing the spread of decay by reducing limb lengths. Avoid “topping” or cutting major limbs to stubs, as this can make the tree more susceptible to breakage during future storms.
A tree’s ability to withstand heavy winds depends on its health and structure, as well as environmental factors like soil conditions and climate. The most resilient trees are compact with a low center of gravity, and a strong, sturdy trunk with deep, symmetrical roots. They are far more likely to survive a storm than trees with a shallow root system or those planted too close to houses and other buildings.
It is also helpful to know what species are most suitable for your local environment, as certain types of trees are more prone to damage than others. For example, pine trees tend to be less able to withstand storms than hardwoods like oak and hickory.
Care for Your Trees
Taking the time to inspect your trees and address any storm damage early on can save you the hassle, expense, and possible danger of losing your landscape investment. Healthy trees stand up better to severe weather, but even the sturdiest tree can suffer from a multitude of problems that could make them susceptible to high winds.
Look for bare branches, open wounds, heaving soil at the base of the trunk, holes or cavities in the bark, dead limbs and leafless twigs, weakened root systems, and leaning trees. These are all signs that a tree needs immediate attention and may be prone to high winds.
If a tree has been severely damaged, call in a professional. Never attempt to prune or remove any downed or weakened branches yourself, especially if the damage involves power lines. Regardless of whether they are down or hanging on a tree, all electrical wires carry a residual charge that can be fatal. Instead, contact a tree service to assess the damage and develop an appropriate treatment plan.
Aside from addressing any obvious storm damage, it is important to keep your trees properly tended. Inspecting them regularly for pests, pruning as needed, and mulching the base of your tree are all effective methods to prevent storm damage.
In addition, providing adequate watering can help to avoid drought stress in your trees. This will also strengthen their roots and make them less likely to become damaged by the high winds of a storm. Another good option is installing a lightning protection system, which is a series of wires that guide electrical current to the ground and steer it away from your home and other structures.
It’s also a good idea to consider planting more sturdier species of trees on your property. Several of these, including red maple, cherry laurel, sugar maple, sycamore, and bald cypress, are more tolerant of high winds than other types. By incorporating these and other tips for protecting your trees, you can feel confident that your landscape will remain beautiful even during severe weather. This will add to your property’s value and increase the curb appeal of your home.
Hire a Certified Arborist
While proper tree care is key to keeping your trees healthy, you will also want to make sure they are ready for severe weather events. This means assessing a tree for internal damage, leaning or uprooting, ground heaving, and proximity to power lines. All of these issues can be exacerbated by a storm and present significant safety hazards for everyone in the area.
A certified arborist will assess your trees and identify any risks. They will prune your trees, remove dead branches, inspect for rot or root disease, and check for any other conditions that could lead to a hazardous situation during a storm. In addition, a reputable tree service will also mulch around the base of your trees to protect them and keep their roots moist.
When choosing a professional, ask for certification and proof of insurance. You will also want to know what type of equipment they use and if debris cleanup is included in the estimate. Finally, you will want to be on the same page with your arborist about what your expectations are so there is no confusion during and after the job.
Branches that hang over your house are a major risk during a storm, and this is one of the most common areas where damage occurs. A certified arborist will look for limbs that are too close to your home and trim them accordingly. They will also look for any limbs that have large cracks or splits, as they are far more likely to fail during a storm and cause damage.
If a tree has been damaged by lightning or fire, it can be prone to breaking during severe weather. In addition, a storm can bring ice which can put added stress on trees and cause them to break or fall. You can help reduce the chance of this type of damage by planting wind-resistant trees and having your trees regularly inspected by a certified arborist. In addition, you can add protection by having your tree trunks inspected for fissures and signs of lightning damage. By following these steps, you can ensure your trees are prepared for the next severe weather event and will survive with minimal damage.
Inspect Your Trees After a Storm
Even if your trees make it through a storm unscathed, it’s important to take the time to inspect them afterward. Loose branches, weaknesses caused by the storm and age, and other problems may not be obvious at a glance. If these issues aren’t addressed before the next storm, they could put your tree at risk for further damage or possibly collapse.
Begin your inspection at the crown of the tree. Look for bare branches and those that have broken or torn away, especially large branches. If a branch is missing a significant amount of bark, this may indicate rot or insect infestation. Damaged limbs should be removed as soon as possible to prevent injuries to people or property damage from falling limbs.
Pay special attention to cracks in the trunk of a tree, which can be an indicator of serious structural damage and a future collapse. If you notice a crack that is more than a few inches wide, or if it appears on two sides of the tree, this is a sign that the tree may be in danger of collapsing.
Look for signs of rot, like mushrooms growing in the bark and cavities left by woodpeckers. Also, check for shelf fungi, which are a sign of rotting inside the trunk. Look for limbs that are dangling or appear to be leaning after the storm, as these can cause injury or property damage.
If your tree is showing any of these signs, it’s best to call an experienced arborist for a professional assessment. A qualified arborist can help you identify and treat any problems before the next storm hits, which will save you both money and stress.
The best way to prepare your trees for a storm is by having routine maintenance services performed throughout the year. Regular tree pruning, soil and root management, insect and disease control, and more will help your trees stay strong, healthy, and resilient against the elements. When you know how to care for your trees, they can better withstand severe weather and protect your home.